Volunteers’ stories: Charles & Mary Bartella

Joining our Virtual Volunteer team during COVID was Egyptian-born asylum seeker Charles Bartella and his wife Mary.

Charles told us he was drawn to Canice’s Kitchen because he once also teetered on the brink of homelessness and seeing a need, he wanted to help.

After escaping great unrest in Egypt he arrived in Sydney with no network, savings or a job. To survive, he skipped meals and consumed expired food.

 “I had this feeling, I might end up homeless” he says. “The first few months here, it was really insecure.”

Charles avoided homelessness when a charity for asylum seekers helped him apply for jobs and secured work with St. Vincent’s Hospital. Charles told us since then, the blessings have continued, firstly meeting his Australian wife through Church and now recently welcoming a baby daughter.

Charles feels immense gratitude to Australia and it was that which spurred his desire to help in his community. Charles reached out to our Kitchen during the pandemic and quickly signed onto a Virtual Cooking team. Since then he has prepared some of the most amazing meals we have seen arrive at our gates.

Like many Australians, the pandemic came at an inopportune time for Charles. He’d only recently left his job to study for a May dental exam which was indefinitely postponed. Finding a volunteer role with  Canice’s has given him a sense of purpose, punctuating his weeks with a joyful night of cooking with his wife – also a volunteer.

“Cooking and volunteering makes me happy, I am so grateful” and “ I just want to give back.”

Charles will soon be cooking onsite in our commercial Kitchen as he is joining the onsite team when we reopen post COVID. Welcome Charles and Mary!